SDLP Health spokesperson, Mark H Durkan MLA has deemed the continued Stormont stalemate a ‘wilful neglect of children’s health.’
The Foyle MLA’s comments follow a report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Ireland, which revealed ‘no progress’ on child health policy in the North has put children’s health at risk.
Mr Durkan said: “Living within a political vacuum, it is unsurprising that there has been no progress insofar as children’s health policy is concerned.
“It is unconscionable that politics here has allowed for a society where children’s mental health is in decline and over a quarter suffer from obesity and other health-related issues.
“Two years without an Executive marks two years of wilful neglect; vital recommendations and updated models for children’s healthcare have not been implemented.
“Just last year hundreds of babies in the North West did not receive their early year assessments due do a shortage of health visitors- it is clear that children here are being disadvantaged from birth as a result of systemic failures.
“Our children are being let down in education, future employment opportunities and now the most basic of necessities; reliable healthcare. These are issues we cannot afford to be left behind on.”
He added: “We must not allow children’s health and well-being to be treated as collateral damage amidst the playground politics of the DUP and Sinn Fein. Evidently their political self-interests override the best interests of a public they supposedly represent.
“We cannot be lulled into inaction on these matters. The prosperous future of our society is reliant on the good health of our children- invest in them and we invest in a brighter Northern Ireland.
“Now is the time to put the needs of the people ahead of politics, before the deterioration of our institutions reaches the point of no return. ”